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LAPD officers who shot immigrant acted 'in immediate defense of life,' Beck says

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck on Tuesday offered a detailed account of a fatal officer-involved shooting near MacArthur Park that has sparked community protests and scattered unrest.

Homicide Report Emphasizing that the department's internal investigation into the shooting had only just begun, Beck said initial accounts from witnesses and the involved officers indicate the officer who fired acted "in immediate defense of life."

Three officers assigned to the Rampart Division's bicycle unit were responding to a different radio call Sunday afternoon when they were flagged down by a pedestrian, who told them a man was threatening passersby with a knife nearby, Beck told the Los Angeles Police Commission, which oversees the LAPD.

The officers rode to the corner of Sixth Street and Union Avenue, observing the man as he continued to threaten people with a knife, Beck said. They confronted him with their weapons drawn, ordering him repeatedly in English and Spanish to drop the knife, according to Beck. The man instead raised the knife over his head and advanced toward the officers, at which point one of the officers fired two rounds.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene. In response to a reporter's question about whether the officers could have used nonlethal weapons to subdue the man, Beck said bicycle officers frequently do not carry with them the selection of beanbag rifles and other weapons found in a traditional patrol car. It was not immediately known whether the officers were equipped with Taser stun guns.

As with all officer-involved shootings and other serious uses of force, investigators from the department's Force Investigation Division will spend the next several months investigating and re-creating the shooting, and compiling their findings into a report.

A review board of command-level officers then advise Beck on whether the officer's tactics, decision to brandish a weapon and decision to use the weapon were appropriate. Beck, in turn, makes his recommendations to the commission, which has the final word on adjudicating incidents. The entire process frequently takes about a year to complete.

Beck said the investigation would be as transparent "as humanly possible." It is difficult, however, for the public to track such inquiries since the investigation and deliberations are confidential.

The commission's inspector general is expected to release a public summary of the commission's findings, but neglected to publish scores of the reports in recent years and is now working to dig out from the large backlog. If officers are determined to have acted outside of department policy, they can face discipline ranging from more training to dismissal.

In reference to the protests and isolated cases of bottle and rock throwing that officers have endured since the shooting, Beck said the protesters represented "a very small" part of the Rampart neighborhood. He called on "everyone in Rampart to act appropriately. This is not a time to tear the community apart." 

Four people were arrested during the demonstrations and three officers were injured.

-- Joel Rubin at LAPD headquarters

Photo: A crowd gathers at a makeshift memorial at West Sixth Street and South Union Avenue, where a 37-year-old Guatemalan day laborer was shot and killed by LAPD officers Sunday. Credit: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (115)

I think that the protestors were probably thinking of how these situations are handled in other areas.


In San Marino, a man threatened the police with a knife, stabbed a police dog and then set a house on fire. He was not shot - he was arrested.

Having said that, when I read about the situation in San Marino - I thought that it was completely insane that they did not shoot this person who was such a danger to everyone in the immediate area. But, it was San Marino and the fall out would be significant.

I think that this man should have been shot, he was threatening strangers on the street with the knife and he refused to drop the knife and instead came towards the officers. Any moron that thinks that they should have aimed at a leg or arm...doesn't realize that when they shoot it is because the danger is such that it must be stopped, and stopped immediately. People who are shot in the arm or leg or foot are still a threat. Also - shooting at the torso is the largest area of the body - obviously the arm and leg are much smaller and run the risk of missing. Would those people who think that a threat like this can be taken care of like "in the movies" isn't thinking about the possibility that a stray bullet can kill an innocent person sitting in thier home, or in a business, etc. Would it have been better for this crazy person to have lived after having been wounded and an innocent person to die?
I still can help but think - if this man were in San Marino (or Beverly Hills...or Bradbury...or La Canada...)and owned a million dollar home...well, he would still be alive...

As much as I often don't like the police's tactics if someone was coming at me with a knife on the street I could only hope I had a firearm to return him the gesture.

Photo is classic, where is it, downtown San Salvador or Juarez, MX? What the hell is LA today? I don't even know where the city I grew up is anymore...sad.

Before people start judging police officers tactics, has anyone been to Sixth and Union on a Sunday afternoon? It's usually filled with people, with unlicensed merchants selling things on the sidewalk and people going in and out of stores. If you're a police officer, are you going to give this person, who is threatening people, time to carry out his threat? Are you going to fire at a moving smaller area of the body like an arm or leg, or go for the more reliable shot in the center of the chest, which leaves less chance for a ricochet or a miss which might hit an innocent bystander? Remember, this guy is advancing toward you with the knife over his head.

If you hate or don't trust the police, please don't call them when you have an emergency. Let them do their job for the people who support them.

As it turn out, this drunk guy with a knife, who entered the USA Illegally was one of the millions granted Amnesty by then President Ronald Reagan.

The Fed's and GOP have $@#&*+ us again.

It is evident that most if not all these individuals commenting are deliberately instigating a fight in hopes of getting the people of westlake to react to these officers neglegance in a negative manner.

@ will i. amden... you said.
Why did the officer have to shoot twice? Isn't once enough? Or is that officer training. Also, couldn't one of the officers shoot him in the leg, shoulder, etc.? Like they do in the movies.
Posted by: will i. amden | September 07, 2010 at 11:36 AM

Your partially right. What a waste of good ammuniton. If the officer was a good shot... one between the eyes would have done it.

yeah, the use of the word "immigrant" is a headline writer's idea. The actual story uses the term "man" and I have no information about him, except in the photo caption. There I learn he is a Guatemalan "day-laborer". "Immigrant" makes it sound like he was caught and killed sneaking across the border. Was the headline writer trying to find a neutral term? "Day-laborer" would seem a more neutral description. "Guatemalan, if correct, is most properly descriptive of "the man". All three beg the question if "Illegal Alien" might be more detailed, if accurate?

Oh yeah, if I recall correctly the LAPD (like all others?) is trained to shoot to kill a hostile armed attacker [and knives can be throw in the flick of a hand]. Bodies tend to stop bullets from flying all over the town [although I think agencies should investigate "shoot-to-stop" in appropriate situations - shooting at someone's legs would certainly get their attention and likely drop them].

I do really wish however that they could be issued SpiderMan stickie-webbing nets so they didn't have to be forced to shoot idiots like this: are you telling me someone can't invent a web-in-a-can? Get with it Alfred! They should not have to tase grandma on a med reaction.
But shooting to kill is easy and simple to train and learn, so they do. Wish we all could be a lot smarter and kinder, but them's humans for ya.

Lesson is: follow the orders of the LAPD, especially if they have their guns drawn. Face first on the ground with arms out would be an appropriate response if you want to live. Not my rules. Theirs. You can always talk later.

Rioters attacking Police Stations? That will not end well.

Headline if this had happened at a tea party
Racist Tea Party member shot while attacking hispanic officer with lethal weapon. AG Eric Holder to investigate Tea Party under RICO ACT. Mayor pledges justice will be swift and firm, and this type of violence will not be tolerated in this country

I don't know if anyone has mentioned it, but what ever happened to a taser gun? Do police officers in L.A. use them? I saw this one case in Europe where police were able to take down a subject that was holding a person hostage at knife point with a taser gun. Sometimes it seems like people, in general, have a narrow point of view on circumstances and don't give way to alternative thoughts. Maybe the police officer could have drawn his taser gun as soon as he got to the spot, but then again I don't know what was going through his mind at the time.

May these is a wake up call to finally round up all this illegals and send them back to their country or origin. FYI, I am and a U.S. Citizen of Mexican Heritage and so are my parents.

Shooting a man to dead is not a way to deal with a person
with a knife. This is an other excuse for the police abuse of
autoroty there are many way this matter could have been
dealt with other then killing this person. When these abuses
are going to stop. I just hopped that their next victim is
not a black person because they will have deal with them in
worst manner. The LAPD and all police departements need to
stop abusing and harrasing people for ones!!! What happened
to serve and protect?

I'm sorry, but if you charge any law enforcement personnel with a dangerous weapon the outcome would more than likely be the same. Like one writer stated, they were bicycle officers......they don't have a cache of equipment to pull from. If this person had killed a bystander these people complaining would be saying what took the officers so long to handle the situation. Let's quit running the Police dept. the way the public wants and give the officers the training and authority to do there job.

It is sad that the first thing some immigrants learn and embrace is the right to protest, they need to first find out WHAT to protest. This is not Guatemala, you cant wander around with weapons. When you see this rabble it is hard to make a case for diversity. yuuch

Why are they protesting? What if this looney killed one of their kids? They'd blame the police for not stopping him. This guy was drunk and ready for a fight. If they really "loved" this guy, they would have taken away his booze and told him to stay home.

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